Well it finally happened. The U. S. Supreme Court decided by a 6 to 3 margin yesterday in favor of the parents in the case of Forest Grove Sch Dist v. TA 557 U. S. _____ (2009). The opinion by Justice Stevens was joined by five other justices including Ginsburg and Alito. (Once again, I suggest a new motto for special education: special education - bringing people together.) Justice Souter wrote the dissenting opinion and was joined by Scalia and Thomas.
You can view both the majority opinion and the dissent at this link.
A few preliminary observations: first, the supremes essentially adopted the reasoning of the Ninth Circuit, including the argument that it would be absurd to prohibit the possibility of reimbursement where a district never finds a child to be eligible.
Second, the High Court at page 17 of the slip opinion for the first time explicitly recognizes the authority of hearing officers to award reimbursement. This is important given the school district's argument at oral argument that hearing officers lacked such authority.
There will be more about this decision in subsequent posts. Please stay tuned.